United Nations says has helped 12 jurisdictions prepare Syrian war crimes cases

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A United Nations body working to ensure justice for war crimes committed by all sides in Syria has provided information and evidence to 12 national jurisdictions, its chief disclosed on Monday as the country marked a decade of war.

Videos, photos, satellite imagery, “exfiltrated documents”, witness statements and forensic samples constitute “the best documented situation since the end of World War Two”, said Catherine Marchi-Uhel of the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism investigating the most serious crimes in Syria.

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“It doesn’t make the justice path easy, but it makes it possible,” Marchi-Uhel , a former French judge, told a panel event hosted by Britain.

Her small team in Geneva is building a repository of the large amount of evidence and information and corroborated it in accordance with international criminal law standards, she said.

“We are cooperating with and assisting investigations and prosecutions in 12 different jurisdictions. We have received 100 requests for assistance in relation to 84 distinct investigations and prosecutions,” Marchi-Uhel said. It had shared information and evidence for 39 of the 100 investigations.

Marchi-Uhel, referring to the 12 jurisdictions, later told Reuters: “A large proportion are in Europe”.

A court in the German city of Koblenz last month sentenced a former member of Syrian President Assad’s security services to 4-1/2 years in prison for abetting the torture of civilians, the first such verdict for crimes against humanity in the Syrian civil war.

Paulo Pinheiro, who heads a separate panel of UN war crimes investigators that keeps a confidential list of suspects, told Monday’s event: “To date, the Commission of Inquiry has compiled initial information on more than 3,200 alleged individual perpetrators.

“That includes individuals from all sides of the conflict, including government and pro-government forces, anti-government armed groups, and United Nations-listed terrorist organizations, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and ISIL,” he said.

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